Short fiction and reviewing



Two weeks ago, I came across a post from Renay at Lady Business about her struggles with the field of short SF fiction.

The short fiction field is huge and it’s flooded with so much work that no one reader could begin to keep up (did anyone ever keep up? Was it possible, long ago before the Internet, SF fan historians?) I know there are people out there that care about short fiction, its future, and want to ensure that new people come in and care about it just as much as they do. Unfortunately, right now it feels impenetrable. I hear a lot of commentary saying that the really daring work isn’t done in novels, but instead is happening in short fiction. I hear that investing in short fiction will give you a leg up on what’s going to be happening in novel length work later on. If that’s true, at this rate it’s simply easier and less stressful for me to sit down and wait for the big ideas to hit the novels, remixed and transformed from the short fiction writers or by short fiction writers turned novelists.

I want to care about short fiction, but I have no clue how or where to start because there’s just so much stuff and there’s little to no filtering unless I slog through it myself or wait until December – March for Hugo season.

Obviously, Renay is coming at this from a reader’s perspective. However, this is also a problem from a writer’s perspective, as the exchange below indicates.




In her post, Renay calls for more (and more robust) reviewing of short fiction and this strikes me as something short fiction writers also need to help them hit readers’ radars. Along with Renay, I can see a definite imbalance: I know many short story writers but very few reviewers of short fiction.

These conversations also have me reconceptualising myself as a reader. I almost didn’t read Renay’s post, saying to myself “I don’t really read short fiction.” Once I started thinking about it, I realised how ridiculously untrue this was. What am I doing reading No Need To Reply if I’m not a reader of short fiction? Or anything by FableCroft Publishing? I’ve even edited an anthology of short fiction and been involved with several more besides. So this view of myself as someone who doesn’t read short fiction is not at all accurate. While novels remain my preferred format, there are plenty of short stories mixed in amongst my reading.

Which means I’m well placed to help out when it comes to reviewing short fiction, especially because I’m already doing it. In practice, not a whole lot is going to change. I don’t necessarily intend to start reading more short fiction–not allowing myself to read at whim is a quick way to reader’s block. However, I do hope to be a bit more conscious of the amount of short fiction I’m reading.

One change I do intend to make is how I tag my posts. As I already mentioned, my reading–and thus my reviewing–tends to be a jumble of formats. What use is reading and reviewing more short fiction if no one can find those reviews? In fact, I suspect that short story reviewing is more common than Renay thinks but that these reviews likewise get lost amongst the jumble on other book blogs. So, to help with that here I’ve started a tag for short stories.

I’d be interested in hearing more on this topic. If you’re a reader, where do you find reviews of short fiction? If you review, what do you do to make reviews of short fiction noticeable amongst the longer fiction? Are there other solutions I could help contribute towards?